Tackling Pregnancy With A Toddler
I will always remember the looks I get from strangers during these bigger days of pregnancy with my toddler (or both!) in tow. Oftentimes people will say things like, “You must be so busy” and “These are the days.” People look at you with awe, thinking you are either crazy or missing those days themselves. I am so busy, busier than I ever have been. These are the best days, and they do go by quicker than I would like. Tackling pregnancy when you have a toddler or several little ones is no easy feat. It is so worth every long day. But it does not mean that is is not physically, mentally, and emotionally, draining especially during those final weeks before baby. Things that are normally easy zap your energy, and your other children do not become any less demanding. Even harder, you might have toddlers that do not understand why mama is so tired and different than normal.
For many moms, you may be tackling the throes of toddlerhood while also preparing for another baby. As a third time mama in this situation, we are doing our best to thrive and find joy in everyday! There are peaks and valleys, and we are learning a ton on this bumpy road. Here are some tips on doing more than just surviving pregnancy as you continue to be your best self for you and your toddler.
All The Prep
Regardless of what it is, if you can prep it ahead of time, do it. Set out clothes the night before. Make a big batch of pancakes or egg muffins that can be reheated for breakfast. Run the dishwasher before heading to bed even when you are tired. Prep crafts for the toddlers or your own work items you may need. The unexpected will always come up (literally always) and the last minute poop disasters happen to everyone. While you cannot prepare for all the things that will pop up in a day, the little things you can prep really add up to making things easier. I am also a big planner fan, so if you find yourself losing track of days, appointments, or reminders, check out some planners that might work in your schedule to give yourself a little grounding. Towards the end of pregnancy, this could also mean prepping ahead meals for the busy days that are coming!
Establish Lower Expectations
Notice that this is different than “lower your expectations.” Lowering your expectations makes it seem like you are dropping the ball somewhere and adds to the never ending mountain of mom guilt. Pregnancy is an incredible feat all by itself! Listening to your body and making room for your pregnancy to take center stage is crucial. Instead of simply “lowering your expectations” sit down and actually establish what your “lower expectations” are as THE NEW NORMAL. At the end of day, what minimum level of items do you feel need to be accomplished for you to get restful sleep and wake up to do it all over again? Maybe it’s letting go of some cleaning routines or allowing for some more screen time or rest. For us, my spouse and I both had to get on the same page about the new normal and what our expectations would be for this time. This saved us a ton of resentment, feelings of failure, and missed joy.
Build Independence + Connection
Your toddler can be your greatest asset in tackling a pregnancy with little ones at home! Work on building more independence for your toddler while also fostering a connection between the toddler and baby. Support your toddler in learning how to play independently or expanding the variety of toys or games they can play on their own. One thing that really helped us was establishing a concept of “hers.” She felt content playing with “her” toys in “her” room and enjoyed that time for herself. If the independent play is not where you would like it to be, start by modeling how to be creative and use your imagination during family play time and take steps from there. Being patient with your toddler as they build this skill is key so they feel empowered!
We also work to foster a strong bond between our toddlers and baby! Getting the toddlers involved as much as you can really helps them stay connected while also helping with getting things done. When organizing all the baby items we included our toddler in all activities such as setting up the swing, folding baby clothes or washing baby toys. Our toddler reads books with us to the baby. We talk often about tasks that the toddler will be able to help with once the baby is here. Even if your toddler is very young, they have the ability to be a lot more involved than you might think! Now our toddlers ask about the baby everyday and know a bit of what to expect with the changes ahead.
Seek Out Support
BIGGEST TOOL YOU HAVE! Whether you are tackling this journey as a single parent, or with a partner, the best thing you can do for yourself is build your village. When the first trimester nausea hits me around week 4, I know I will need my husband more than ever. Communicate the things you need help with or anything you feel slipping through the cracks. If you have family close by, take them up on their offer to play with your kiddo or bring over some dinner. If you do not live close to family (we did not for many years) setup weekly play dates with friends or coffee meetups. These little things make a big difference in alleviating the weight and allowing you to enjoy this time. Seeking out support could also mean setting up weekly support with cleaning, or
One quick tip that really helped me: Be specific and clear with your needs. My husband is notorious for being honey-do list person. I need to be specific and give him a timeline for when I need things done. He tends to struggle with vague or verbal requests for help. Do not feel bad for making requests and make sure you ask for EXACTLY what you need!
Don’t Forget Self Care
Self care still needs to happen, especially when your body is tackling something so monumental. Even when you have no time or energy left for the day, you need to look for pockets in your week that you can squeeze in things for you (and baby!) Self care does not have to be challenging and might have to look different during this time. The important thing is doing things that make you feel positive. With two toddlers, a full time job and a baby on board, my self care consists of the following: my nightly skincare routine, a long shower after bedtimes, coffee every morning, and finding time to read for pleasure. Whatever self care looks like for you, just make sure you prioritize it and don’t let it fall to the wayside.
One On One Toddler Time
For me, this time with my current kiddos is extra special. Pregnancy brings tons of challenge, anxiety, sickness, and pains. But this is also the last time your family will look like it does today! Try to keep routines with your other children in place to maintain a sense of normalcy and joy. In our house, each toddler has a specific bedtime routine with mama and I love that time with them! They’re excited to have moments alone with mama and I get to continue to watch them grow into wonderful people. Carve out some one on one toddler time to fully enjoy your pregnancy while also still enjoying the little ones in your life.
Whether this is your second, third, or sixth baby, this time is so special and exciting! Tackling pregnancy with a toddler can be a trying time. Hopefully you find some ways to make it as easy and enjoyable as possible, and make this time one of the best! You got this mama!
All the best,